Employees, whether permanent, fixed-term or part-time have a number of employment rights and protections in Ireland, all of which are contained in the vast catalogue of employment legislation. The most notable are as follows, however, the list is not exhaustive:
- Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994
While there is no specific obligation on employers to provide a written contract of employment, employees are entitled to a written statement of certain terms and conditions of their employment, including but not limited to details of their place of work, job description, date of commencement and duration of the contract, the rate of pay and notice period required to terminate the contract. Any changes in the contract must also be notified to the employee in writing.
- The Payment of Wages Act, 1991 and National Minimum Wage Act 2000
The 1991 Act gives employees the right to a pay slip showing their gross wages and details of any deductions and method of calculation. The 2000 Act provides for an enforceable minimum wage.
- The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997
This act regulates a number of employment conditions including maximum working hours, night work, annual leave and public holiday leave. It sets out an employee’s entitlement to a daily rest period of not less than eleven consecutive hours in each period of twenty-four hours as well as the right to breaks of at least fifteen minutes after four hours and at least thirty minutes after six hours work. An employer has a positive duty to ensure that employees received their rest breaks. The Act imposes a maximum working week of 48 hours worked out on an average basis calculated over various periods depending on the nature of the work. Section 14 of the Act entitles an employee who is required to work on a Sunday to be compensated by the payment of an additional allowance, an increase in the rate of pay, paid time off or a combination of an allowance or increase in pay and paid time off. It does not however entitle the employee to any set rates such as double time or time and a half but simply an additional rate of pay.
- Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005 (as amended)
Employees are entitled under this Act to a safe place of work wherein activities and the nature of employment is carried out in such a manner so as to ensure the safety, health and welfare of employees. Employees should also be provided with adequate training and instruction to enable them to carry out their role as an employee. Employees however have a reciprocal duty under the Act to engage with their employer and are specifically required not to engage in improper conduct or other behaviour that is likely to endanger their (or someone else’s) safety, health and welfare at work.
- The Employment Equality Acts 1998 – 2015
Discrimination on the grounds of gender, civil status, family status, age, race, religion, disability, sexual orientation and membership of the Traveller community are prohibited in a range of employment related areas. Employers also have a duty to prevent an employee being harassed in the workplace.
- Statutory Leave Entitlements
There is a body of legislation which affords parents and those caring for others time away from work. An employee is entitled to maternity, paternity, parental, adoptive and force majeure leave in accordance with the relevant legislation. An employee must however give due notice of an intention to take such leave in accordance with each particular act. The legislation does not give employees any right to paidprotected leave and any such additional right would have to be included in the contract of employment.
- Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Act 1973 – 2005
This Act sets out on a sliding scale, the notice period an employee is entitled to should the contract of employment come to an end, depending on the employee’s length of service. This Act also provides for payment in lieu of any day’s annual leave that an employee has not taken should the employment contract be terminated.
- Unfair Dismissal Acts 1977 – 2015
Dismissal occurs when an employee’s contract is termination but the position remains open and can be filled by someone else. The Unfair Dismissal Acts protects employees from being unfairly dismissed however an employee should have at least 12 months’ continuous service with an employer to bring a claim for unfair dismissal and such claim should be brought by an employee not later than six months from the date of the dismissal.
Where an employee feels his or her employer has not complied with any of the above pieces of legislation, they are entitled to seek redress to the Workplace Relations Commission. Employees should note that in order to be successful claims for redress must generally be lodged with the Workplace Relation Commission within six months from the date of contravention and a failure to do so can be detrimental.
Article by: Marie Hynes, Associate Solicitor
16 August 2019